On 21 March 2011 the technical workshop U-Map LLL Estonia was held at the Ministry of Education and research, Tartu. Around 40 people from 29 HEIs and other stakeholders participated.
After an introduction by Mart Laidmets, head of the department of higher education, the U-Map team (Marike Faber and Frans Kaiser) introduced U-Map and the U-Map LLL Estonia project to the audience.
The remainder of the programme was dedicated to a detailed introduction to the on-line questionnaire and the help-desk.
The help desk consists of a FAQ section on the website and the e-mail (email@example.com) and phone hotlines to the U-Map team.
The FAQ section provides the user the opportunity to pose questions regarding the questionnaire and how to answer the questions. It allows the user also to read the answers provided by the U-Map team to frequently asked questions and react to these answers. The latter is possible only for users who are logged in (using the access codes proved for access to the questionnaire).
The on-line questionnaire was demonstrated in detail section by section. The issues that were raised during this demonstration are described below.
A number of institutions express their concern regarding the default year of reference (2008). They argue that the situation in Estionian higher education has changed significantly in 2009. Many HEIs developed their activities in the area of international orientation in 2008-2009. If U-Map uses 2008 data, this would not be reflected and Estonian HEIs would not be characterized properly.
EHIS does not comprise data on staff for 2008 but from 2009 onwards, staff data are available through EHIS.
HEIs indicate that they have information on staff for both 2008 and 2009.
If 2008 is a ‘atypical’ year (which is to be discussed with the U-Map team) an exemption from the referenceyear may be made.
To accommodate the interest to present latest data available the U-Map team will consider the option of presenting an additional latest U-Map profile as background information. The U-Map profile of the default year of reference will then be used in the finder and viewer. Whether this option can be implemented on a short term is questionable.
The frequency of updating information is not decided upon yet. However, it is clear that there will not be an annual or bi-annual update.
The data submission procedure was explained to the audience in detail. This information can be found also in the U-Map protocol
It was stressed that the name that will be used in U-Map needs to be checked by the HEIs.
There were no further remarks.
There was a suggestion to change the date for counting student related information on 1 October instead of 10 November as used when pre-filling. The reason for this is that this date is more in line with the international datadelivery procedures. A counterargument was made: there are a lot of students that enroll during October. Using 10 November will capture these students. It was decided to keep 10 November as the reference date.
It was stressed that data on international exchange students should refer to students who participate in a recognized, subsidized programme or exchange agreement. Whether such programmes/agreements are bi-lateral or multilateral does not matter.
The definition of region is problematic in Estonia. According to NUTS Estonia is only one region. A more detailed regional divide exists, distinguishing between North and South. This distinction does not help as the larger institutions have campuses across the country. The institutions do have information on the county (there are 15) the new entrants come from. This information may be of use to the HEIs. The U-Map team will confer with the Ministry to see whether this information could be used. We decided to continue the discussion on the region-issue after the workshop and communicate the outcome of the discussion (what region to use) within two weeks after the workshop.
There are a number of degree types that have been combined in prefilling. Pre-Bologna and post-Bologna bachelor degrees are different but they refer to the same degree level (both give access to the master programmes). Because of this, the degrees awarded in these two types of programmes were combined. The participants agreed with that decision. A similar approach was used regarding pre-Bologna and post-Bologna master degrees and university bachelor and professional higher education degrees: they are different but at a similar degree level.
The region-issue was also discussed in the context of the graduates (where they work). It was indicated that there is no information on the level of the county. For this indicator there is only one region: Estonia.
There is a question raised regarding short term contracts and how to count staff on such contracts. A number of HEIs hire (foreign) staff on limited and short term contracts. For smaller and private institutions this is a significant part of their teaching capacity. If academic staff is counted on 31-12-2008 it may be that part of those short term contract staff is not included. It was decided that the U-Map team will look into the staff data available (2009 data) to assess the impact of the preferred method (counting on 31-12) in terms of missing short term contracts. The HEIs will be informed on the decision how to deal with this problem within two weeks after the workshop.
Number of doctoral students counted as staff should be zero in all cases. Doctoral students who have a contract as regular academic staff in addition to their registration as a doctoral student can be counted with the staff numbers.
There was one HEI that used a different reference year in its financial statement (academic year instead of calendar year). As the information requested is used in relative terms (% of income from various sources) and not in absolute terms and given the significant workload changing the reference year would imply, it is decided to allow a different reference period for this institution. Reference period used should be specified in comments.
If the second option regarding the ownership of buildings is chosen (mainly owned by the institution) the HEI may specify the percentage of expenditure on housing is used for renting buildings.
The information regarding publications is not prefilled. Since there is a Estonian classification of (research)publications (ETIS) that is generally used by the HEIs it was decided that the U-Map team, in co-operation with the ministry, rector’s conference and HEIs will provide a conversion table (what categories of the ETIS classifications can be related to one of the three categories used in the questionnaire?). This table will be sent to the contact persons as soon as possible.